Fame Of Tear
Interview by Honza Dedek
Translated from Czech by Veronika
She came out the door of hotel
lounge. A little girl dressed in T-shirt, jeans and sandals. Holding in
her hands tray with ash-tray, coffee and cigaretts on it. "You are my next
victim? So let's go, we'll go down to café," she nods her shaven
head that way. "Jesus, these fucking stairs are so little and sheer! If
I'll stumble then I'll pretensiously smash my mouth!" She didn't. Sinéad
O'Connor (33) comfortably seated herself, lit a light Marlboro cigarette,
leant her hands against coffee table; brass crucifix hanging on a braid
in rasta colours. She fixed her eyes upon me, the same eyes from which
the most famous movie tear has dropped - real - ten years ago in Nothing
Compares 2 U video. One can be drown in these eyes.
I thought that worshippers, the more so priests don't blaspheme.
I do not give a shit on it, this is not about it. This was conceived by one part of mankind to be blindly repeated by another huger one. And I'm not interested in it. I don't believe in it.
In which consist your priest role, then?
I can't preach somewhere in a public or do someone's wedding, because all medias would be there and divine service would be gone. I will allow myself to do it when I will be about 50 years old and there will not be any interst about me, as a singer. Nowadays I preach only in privacy-in prisons, hospitals or for my friends. Often I try to help by financial way, spiritual way of my recent mission is destroyed by my popularity.
Your not overlooking crucifix is hanging on a Rasta braid. It's a particular combination, isn't it?
I think it's interesting and I like interesting things. Rasta philosophy is close to me, because it sees God similar like I do. Rastafarians or Hinduists and some other eastern religions perceive God as a miracle, they find his presence in moments of every day, in every human. They can speak with God everywhere, see him in everything around us. And it's close to me.
But you don't hide your pertinence to a catholic belief. For example by your name-Mother Bernadette. Why did you choose this name?
I was born in Dublin district Glenageary,
where there is a church consencrated just to St. Bernadette.
I admired her from my early years, I was fascinated by her destiny and her ideas, too. I worked out a school a school project about her life, I studied maybe all of the possible materials about this amazing entity. As a child I wanted to be a nun, thanks to her and a lot of years later I became a priest. In addition-my godmother's name was Bernadette. It was a name, which inspired all my life, so I logically chose right that name.
Isn't an irony of destiny that just you were suspend from a Catholic school?
It's funny, of course, but it only supports that God has better sense of humour than Woody Allen.
How did you pass with it?
I've been expecting they will kick
me out, once. I've been doing everything for it, as a matter of fact.
I've been shopliftingthese kinds of stupidities like perfumes and rags. Well, one day they chased me. And I've been falling. But I didn't take care, I've been not going to shool a lot, actually. I've not been giving a shit on it because I knew I wnt to be a singer.
When did you start to believe in it?
That I want to be a sing I knew from my 13, when I've been running out the school to take part in various competitions of young talents. It concerned you could win some gelt. In Ireland it isn't very simple to emancipate from a financial addiction on a men. Woman has only 2 possibilities-get married or go to work somewhere as a secretary. And I'd get crazy if I'd have to slam to typewriter and make coffee. Important for me was to prove Ifound my own way. This learnt me to earn gelt on my own in a childhood. Music was actually my only reason to get away from that shit, in which I've been living in. When I recorded Take My Hand with a band In Tua Nua, I was sure I'll reach it once. In this moment I believed I will make enough gelt with my singing, that my parents will not have to toss gelt for my shoolfee.
Parents didn't support you in your singing?
My parents did not give a shit on me, accurately. They didn't believe I'd earn enough gelt for my living with singing. But when I look at my childhood now, I am not surprised at them.
But you have a close relationship with Irish traditional creation. I thought parents raised it in yourself.
Absolutely not. My parents didn't sang to me traditionals before sleep. I heard it in pubs, which I've been visiting in that time. And we sang it in school, sometimes. When I arrived there by chance.
It is said you're working on a record of Irish traditional songs for several years.
If we'll call a very outlooking planning to be a work - I graft on this record in a day and night. I plan it like a double-album, where there would be Irish traditionals a capella on one side and on the second side the same songs in modern arrangements, in funky or drum'n'bass style. I would be glad to proove these old songs works well in new arrangements, too. But you will really have to wait for this one.
If we don't count your EP Gospel Oak, then we had to wait for your new record-Faith And Courage-for six years.
It wasn't on purpose, it just happened. Ten days after releasing of Gospel Oak my recording company closed its door. So I had to look for another one, haggle about conditios, sign contracts and similar horse feathers. My daughter was born so I didn't have time for almost two years to write songs. When I returned to music, six years were gone. That's all.
Album Faith And Courage was influenced by your priesthood - was it difficult to compare with that thing while writing lyrics?
Not too much. Every time I write a song, I adress it to myself at first and then I put it on record. It doesn't mean I sing about myself. Rather on the contrary.
Really? But all your songs from your first record -The Lion And The Cobra- to your very new Faith And Courage, seems to be very convincing personal confessions.
The most of the songs are not about me. If I'd be singing only about myself, for most of the listeners would be my songs very obscure. And because I'm really good in what I do, my songs work convincingly although they tell about common things. They were created on a basis of personal notes but they are about things which can happen to anyone-but why by the God, it must be my life. And this is the same with Faith And Courage; there are only 2 songs which inspired my life. Everything else are stories of another people - both fictious and real. Maybe listeners are meddled because I sing in a first person. But that's only because they will identify better with my songs.
But you will not deny that the most of the songs sounds very in person, especially songs where you apologize to your mother or father. And when we have a respect to facts, which are known about your childhood...
You're damn wrong. I don't have any little reason to apologize to my parents! They did a lot of things for me, but they would apologize for many other things to me.
You didn't forgive them up to the present day?
I didn't clarify myself from what they've done, so how can I forgive them?
Not even to your mother, who is dead?
Especially more would be every apology in vain.
Why did you sang on your album Universal Mother famous Cobain's song, then?
Simply because I liked this song so much. I love it, it's beautiful. And I completely identified with it, it has an unique idea. I feel we had a similar chilhood, me and Cobain. He also had to be a big fella. And our mothers! But to conclude we want to apology for something, can only an idiot. Nobody can't expect it fom me - I never apologize for anything!
One of the possible interpretations can be effort to excuse for all of the insults with which you've regaled in the beggining of nineteeth Irish U2, whom, as a first, helped you to make your way in the world or Prince, who penned your biggest hit: Nothing Compares 2 U.
I was in a shit up to my neck, so I was defending myself. I was young.
Are you sorry for it?
Not even in least! I didn't excuse to anyone and I don't plan it in any case. It's truth I had one apologetic song prepaired while recording Faith And Courage, but I set it aside in the end. For what I'd be apologize? That I said or did things which I've been feeling in that moment?! Such I was and people impeached it or... (she reared glibly her forefinger). Such I lived.
But you apologized to pope that you ripped up his photo.
No, never. You can't believe to everything what is written, so called earnest print,too. Everything is even fucking boulevard. I never saw Pope and to say truth, I don't care about it.
I don't even marvel that so many people hated you in the beggining of nineteeth
But there were many people whom loved me, too.
You fought all back resolutely by sharper offences to your enemies, then. How much was that pressure of hatred stressing?
But I was in well-being then like I'm now! To me it was stolen what all of these idiots blabbed about me somewhere. I'm interested only in meaning of people whom really know me. They have right to infer me, by them I will gladly hear out any critic. But people whom didn't absolutely know me imprecated and insulted me. They met me somewhere at party or in backstage and staight off knew what I'm like. I never took care about effluences of verdicts of these crappers. In addition- to offence Sinéad O'Connor was one of the trends of those times. Most of those goops wanted to improve their images. MC Hammer, for example - we never saw each other and I really doubt he heard my only record, but he sent me cheque to buy one-shot 1st class plain ticket to lug away of USA back to Dublin.
He could pay only 2nd class for you.
He had to do that, he has naked backside nowadays! I think he used this money more... I waited few years and sent this cheque back to him. But let's change a theme, who calls to mind that beggar MC Hammer?
How much helped to your self-confidence that your record I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got was the most succesfull album of 1990?
It didn't play any role, I was ever the same. Simply, when I have spittle on a tongue, I spit out.
Therefore after release of next album of cover versions -Am I Not Your Girl?- you gave over your attacs to neighbourhood a lot.
It's only optical delusion. I am not changed, but things around me has changed. Am I Not Your Girl? was far from the success of I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, so there were less reporters spilling around me, ready to catch every nonsense which I gibber somewhere. You see - I'm the same.
Why have you done relatively certain collection of cover versions after a brilliant author's album? Was there fear of possible bad succes with trying to step outside your own shadow?
I'd not call it fear, I think. But I wanted to avoid a comparison of my new record and I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got. So I ruled on for that poor trick. If I'd go out with a new album of my songs, everyone would drown it just because it's not as succesfull as the previous one. And it couln't be more succesfull. I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got was a record, which succeed once in a life and only to one musician of thousand. It's success shocked even me aasolutely, and I can't explain it to myself to these days. There was a big craziness about it, that I've a frisson even now; and I am not gentle character. I felt how a pressure of public crunched me, I had to afford some rest and wait till everything will settle down. And then I was able to make a record of my song. I didn't resist to my recording company, whom enormously insisted on me to release something else instead. So I come under it and done this album of cover versions.
So similar approach in some ways as The Beatles in a case of White double-album after the success of legendary album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band?
I don't know, I almost don't know White double-album. I would perhaps recognize these songs if I'd hear it but I maybe wouldn't know it is right from this album. In any case - I concerned about something else, I think. After I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got I fell among pop singers and I with this record I wanted to proove that I can reach more than sing pushful melodies. I wanted to introduce myself in such light as most of the people din't know about. And because I allways loved musicals, on which I've been groing up. I am not only songster , in a first place I'm a singer. And even to me it's further to interpret melodies of other people than compose it by myself. Anyway I've some cover versions every album, not only on Am I Not Your Girl?
In any case it wasn't very successful album in financial way. And served to bad tongues as a proof you're nothing more than one album star.
I didn't take care about it, because I've never been single singer. My songs, except Nothing Compares 2 U, were not scoring in single charts, my albums succeed. And that's what I allways wanted to reach. I wanted to do great albums, not two or three singles and the rest is ballast. And it still goes on. Look at the shops-you'll find my records there after fifteen ten years from it's release. This I call success! And that's because I am not interested how many records of my new album -Faith And Courage- will be sold. Only if I'll find it in shops, I'll know it was succesfull record.
Naturally your recording company is interested in numbers more than anything else. So much the more that your penult album -Universal Mother- wasn't very succesfull.
That's nonsense, recording company didn't have any reason. to be discontended. It was sold about 1,5 millions of records and that's not too bad. And I didn't do any exploitation compaign. If I'd do that, it would be sold twice more, I can stipulate it to anyone. If I'm whatever I am, I'm reliable.
On the contemporary your new album anticipated very nice exploitation compaign. Your information of your long time friend and ex-Pogues singer Shane MacGowan for possession of drugs was mulling over in all medias for a long time.
Shane is cunt, in introduction. One of my close friends overdosed there in his house, but he refused to go to eviction, although he was the only one who was there, whe it happened. In last 10 years four people died on Shane's floor. And it was he, who set them at heroin. If there was no Shane, these people would be living, now. So when it came about just my friend, I informed police that some Mr. Shane MacGowan has a lot of drugs in his house. And I am sure I did well. Of course I will not resurrect these hypes, but when someone will overdose in his house, police will finally nip this cunt.
But you've been lending him money. You had to know for what he use it.
I didn't take care for what he wanted this money. The problem was not he bought heroin for it but that he wanted to hype it just near me. So I told him that if he will do it I will go and call police. He did it. And me too. Now he goes and tells to everyone I cracked him. He forgets I warned him.
This is story like fom Pulp Fiction or Trainspotting.
No, that's nothing yet. One of those four people, whom died because of Shane's guilt, was close collaborator of Shane's new band-The Popes. He overdosed in one Paris hotel when he was on tour with band. And this crew of fucking crappers simply let him dead in a hotel room and travelled to London with fun. And then in England they called to reception of this hotel announcing there is a dead man in a hotel room this and this. You don't believe me?
Yes, I believe you, I did an interview with Shane & The Pogues few years back, and I know how it looked in their change-room and especially how they looked like.
It's OK. Shane can ride him down, as he wants. If he wants to kill himself, all right, he can peg out. But not to push drugs to other people. And he raised an addiction in a lot of people, which some of them didn't live out. My good friend is dead just because Shane is alive. I don't want to litigate anyone, who is on drugs, but people who offer such raw drugs like heroin, to another people, don't merit any compassion. My friend was 23 years old.
But it is said that you have your experiences with drugs...
Nonsense, I never been on any drugs. I had weed few times, that's all. But I never had problems with drugs. But there are gups about me! For example I read about myself I played Ophelia in Hamlet. Interesting fiction.
Are you not attracted by a theatre?
I played in few films such little roles, and it just meets me. I like it on a filming floor, it's very nice distraction, but I know I'm not very good actress, so I don't want a title-role. Expection is musical My Fair Lady. I'd play there without demand on honorarium, it would be maybe fulfilment of my big dream. If I'd have some dreams in this area. You see, I don't have to show this wish and I play in Hamlet.
And you'd may be great actress, that authentic tear in Nothing Compares 2 U was really perfect.
Pity that it wasn't actor's performance, but reality. I sang this song because of my mother, who died few years back. And while shooting I missed her a lot. We didn't like each other too much but it was strange feeling of sadness, when I rally wanted her to be back. In this while my tear spirted, I didn't play it. But it's interesting it was tear which made me famous all over the world. Thanks to it I sold more than 26 millions of albums I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got. And I cried all my childhood!
thanks to Veronika
for translating the interview specially for Universal Mother.